Wenceslao: Mental health

I have been to doctors’ clinics and hospitals in my life, but yesterday was the first time I visited a psychiatrist. I have heard the lobby for the passage recently of a law about mental health but didn’t listen because I didn’t fathom its import. Or not until the recent episode of paranoia hit me. I chose to seek professional help instead of relying solely on the advice of friends. I am glad that I did because it gave me a better understanding of my ailment.

But first off, I would say that seeking psychiatric help is not easy and it is costly. When I called a big private hospital in our place to ask if there was a psychiatrist holding clinic there, the answer was: “Wa.” (None.) The practice is obviously not a good one considering how only few people seek help for their mental health problems. But I realize now that it sure pays to seek professional help for problems involving the mind, although one should understand also that doing so is costly.

I was diagnosed as having a case of severe anxiety. The doctor wasn’t prepared to consider my case as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for lack of enough data. Still, I would say this is a product of the negative experiences I went through in the past. I hope the treatment would be successful.

Which reminds me of the mental health problems my aunt, her oldest daughter and her grandson went through in the past. My aunt passed away years ago, and her oldest daughter is now in the US after her daughter married an American citizen. My aunt’s grandson is well and leading a fruitful life in the city. I consider his past mental health problem as just a bump in his journey.

But what interests me now is how the government is using the mental health law of 2017 to address the mental health issues brought about by the pandemic. I would even say that my recent episode of severe anxiety was partly caused by the number of persons that passed away, and that includes relatives, because of the pandemic. Mental health also needs to be addressed considering how abnormal our lives had been since the pandemic embraced us more than a couple of years ago.

Senior citizens like me, for example, have been psychologically affected by the protocols put in place, especially on the one that tied them to their homes. And wouldn’t livelihood problems also affect the mind? When your place is locked down, earning something for food and to pay the bills is a problem. And it could affect people’s mental health.

It is interesting how mental health is not among the concerns given attention by the Department of Health and even the World Health Organization in this pandemic. Which is not surprising actually because it is but an indirect problem. The main problem is still the coronavirus and Covid-19. Perhaps mental health will only be given a bigger concern after the spread of the virus is stopped or is blunted.

I am now fully vaccinated although I still continue to follow the minimum protocols so the virus won’t enter our domain. And I should attend to my mental health and that of the family too, making living enjoyable despite the pandemic.